Last year, three of my top five stories were COVID related. This year all five stories are COVID related, covering temporary layoffs, mandatory vaccination policies, just cause for termination, reasonable notice periods and wrongful dismissal damages.
Many employers have introduced mandatory COVID vaccine policies that will take effect this month. I am being asked two main questions in relation to the implementation of this kind of policy. The first issue is whether to grant exemptions to the policy for religious or medical reasons. An employer has an obligation to consider the request but can request additional information in connection with the request. The onus is on the employee to show the reason for not getting vaccinated is a sincerely, freely and deeply held belief that is integrally linked to a person’s identity, self-definition and fulfilment.
A mandatory COVID vaccine policy must exempt those who qualify for an exemption for medical reasons or because of creed under the Ontario Human Rights Code.